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How much can we accomplish before the first snow?

Retaining Wall Construction
Rich and his crew build a small retaining wall
September 17th, 2008

Rich, Kim and Shane stopped by for two days to build a small timber retaining wall so Darrell could continue with his concrete work. On the second day Rich left so Shane and Kim finished the wall. They also set in place a few foundation timbers for a large flower box garden by the flag pole. Next spring I will finish building that garden and then I will plant it.

In October Rich was in between jobs and assigned Shane to work at my place for a few weeks. I asked them to install the balustrades and railings that would separate the back loop of the driveway from the back yard. The materials were delivered in September of 2007 and sat in the front yard for almost a year. For the next couple of weeks Shane precisely cut and installed marble railings, balusters and newel posts on sidewalks freshly created by Darrell and his crew.

Rich back fills the new retaining wall
Marble Ballusters
Marble balusters and railings sat on skids
for over a year before they were installed
Double Rainbow
A unique double rainbow illuminates Tacita -
The Silent Goddess and the lower front yard

As mentioned on the previous page I employed myself as a lawn designer and landscaper during the late summer. I built a gravel walkway on the east side of the house and above the tiered gardens. Then I tilled, graded and seeded lawns for the front, side and back yards. Finally I dug a four foot hole and installed a steel tube in concrete to hold a 30 foot flag pole. In October I turned my attention to the gardens.

I wanted a lawn that was low maintenance, able to grow in a high mountain climate and be drought resistant. I found a rye grass and fescue mixture from Nichols Garden Nursery in Albany, Oregon that seemed ideal. Their carefully blended turf mixture combined dwarf perennial rye grass, longellow chewings fescue, sweet clovers, wildflowers and herbs to create a green glade reminiscent of the old English mixed herbal lawns. Nichols Garden Nursery stated that their Dryland Ecology Lawn Mix "presented an attractive appearance between mowing, the quality of the turf was such that it will not be subject to thatch buildup, and it is both drought and shade tolerant". Deb Brown, University of Minnesota Extension Horticulturist wrote a paper which summarized the results of ultra low maintenance lawns. The three year test plots included Nichols Nursery Dryland Ecology Mix. Deb Brown judged the Dryland Ecology Mix lawn as acceptable in appearance, hardy, long wearing and drought resistant.

When I built my log cabin I never bothered with landscaping nor a lawn for the forest was a perfect setting for my home. Now that my home sits on 20 acres and is a Neo-Classical design a lawn and gardens are essential. The guiding principle from the beginning with the new house and yard was to make it as beautiful as possible. I reasoned that the lawn should connect the house to the gardens and act as a canvas that the stately structure could spring from and be surrounded by. I envisioned a soft, green and finely bladed expanse of grass and small flowers that would create a gentle and pretty transition between my home and the more luxuriant, tiered gardens. The gravel walkways I mused, would allow visitors to tread the margin between lawn and gardens while experiencing the full beauty of both.

Tim Brockett
September saw me engrossed in landscaping
Tiered Garden Boxes
In October I focused on preparing the tiered gardens
for winter and next spring
Fire Wood Cutting
Sharing fire wood with neighbors
October 25th, 2008

Many of my neighbors and some fellow parishioners from the Livingston Congregational Church visited in October and took home at least a load of firewood. Slowly we are clearing many of the trees killed by the Big Creek forest fire. Some of the Douglas Firs are so large that they yielded over a cord of fire wood per tree. Next spring I will burn the scrap branches, plant new trees and design an English garden along the driveway and road starting from behind the garage.

One of the many benefits of going to school in Bozeman is that I can combine everyday errands with the pleasure of studying. I purchased over 100 forty pound bags of topsoil and cow manure compost from a store in Livingston that marked them down by 80%. Every Tuesday and Thursday on my way home from school I loaded 800 pounds into my Jeep. In early November I tilled gardens with the compost and top soil and then prepared to plant hundreds of bulbs I picked up at Walmart.

Grand Staircase work
Shane starts to assemble the front entrance
grand staircase railings and balusters
Garage Carriage Doors
Joe cleaned the garage and prepared it
as a winter home for my Jeep
Tiered Gardens
Snow settles on the tiered gardens
November 17th, 2008

Alight snow fell overnight and the ground started to freeze. I worried that I may not get a chance this year to till the gardens and plant bulbs. I wanted to add tulip, daffodil, crocus, hyacinth and iris bulbs to every garden that already contained perennials. Since the ground was frozen I busied myself by spreading manure and clearing weeds.

A few days later the ground thawed and I worked feverishly planting bulbs. For three days from dawn to dusk I toiled in the gardens planting bulbs, tilling the soil, weeding and mulching. The temperatures barely rose above 40 degrees Fahrenheit and my hands were often numb from digging in the wet and cold soil. Next year I will plant bulbs earlier I muttered as I carefully filled and mulched each garden. Small crocuses were planted in the front garden boxes, daffodils and hyacinths in the middle and tall tulips and iris found a home in the highest tiered gardens.

Note in the photo to your right how the gravel walkway follows the tired gardens and separates them from the lawn. Near the top of the photo is the flag pole foundation and one of the marble railings Shane was busy installing. Each railing sits on the outside edge of a four foot wide concrete sidewalk. The railings form a wall or barrier between the lawn and driveway while offering another pleasant walkway inside the yard.

The cold and damp weather caused Shane to move inside to the conservatory. He finished sealing the thermal pool and then tested it for leaks. None were discovered. Then he worked on finishing inside window trim and tiling the storage room floor.

Leak testing the greenhouse tub
The thermal tub holds water well
and is ready for tile
Classic Diamond Tile Floor
Classic diamonds adorn the conservatory
storage room floor
Marble Balustrade
Marble railings or balustrades
line the driveway
November 17th, 2008

Idesigned the lawn as a gentle transition between my home and the tiered gardens. In a similar manner I wished to separate the driveway from the lawn while creating another path that people could experience the beauty that surrounded them. The good folks at Timeless Architecture helped me solve this dilemma by providing classical marble balustrades.

Balustrades were used at the Temple of Nike in 5th century BC Athens. In the Renaissance, turned spindles with wide railing, balustrades were used by Andrea Palladio and other Neoclassical architects. Last year Shane and Chuck installed Renaissance balustrades on the south and north portico balconies. Over the past month Shane built balustrades along the driveway and house entrance sidewalks. Building codes require that spindle spacing be tighter for raised applications thus the balusters on the balconies are closer together than on the sidewalk railings.

On a classical building entrances should be distinct and easily recognizable. The marble balustrades not only separated the driveway from the yard but also clearly defined each entrance to my home. Convenient, four foot wide openings between many of the railing sections allow for easier access to the yard and home.

Visit Timeless Architecture at http://www.timelessarchitectural.com/ by clicking on the underlined text.

Renaissance balustrade
Renaissance balustrades help to
define outdoor spaces
Temple of Nike Balustrade
A solid, raised relief, balustrade at the
Temple of Nike in ancient Athens

Classical balustrades adorn the balcony and line the south entrance sidewalk

Minoan Dolphin Fresco
"Dolphins" Knossos fresco, c. 1500 B.C.
November 22nd, 2008

Since August of 2007 I learned a great deal about topics that I was not able to delve into on my first tour of college. This semester I signed up for The Art and Architecture of Ancient Greece skillfully taught by Professor Regina Gee at Montana State University in Bozeman. We investigated Greek art and culture from neolithic times to the second century BC. Unlike my youthful college experience, I wrote copious notes, listened to every word in lectures and researched topics more deeply in the library and on the web. Now I view college classes as a privilege and an opportunity for learning.

I found Minoan art captivating and beautiful. The dolphin fresco pictured to your left was painted in the Minoan Palace complex at Knossos around 1,500 BC. Below is a red figure pot or krater designed by the ancient Greek master, Euphronios around 510 BC. Note the focus of action and detailed muscles on the fallen hero. A picture can replace a thousand words. The ancient Greeks were tremendously adept at creating highly detailed and lifelike bronze statues too. The Greek bronze warrior shown below was found in the sea off coast of southern Italy (Calabria) near the village of Riace in August of 1972. It was originally produced around 450 BC and may have been an offering to Apollo at Delphi.

Euphronios Krater
Large Red-figure Krater painted by Euphronios, 515 - 510 BC
Riace warrior B in bronze
Riace warrior "B" in bronze
Athenian Parthenon
The Parthenon on the Acropolis of ancient Athens
Caryatids at the Erechtheum
The caryatids at the Erechtheum on the
Acropolis in ancient Athens
Mule Deer Grazing
Mule Deer grazing in the lower front yard
December 4th, 2008

Winter held off its arrival by almost two weeks this year. Usually snow coats the ground by Thanksgiving, November 25th, and stays at least until April. Almost one foot of wet, heavy snow fell overnight. The gardens, bulbs, seeded lawn and yard will remain under a blanket of white snow for at least four months. My outdoor work was done except for snow plowing and shoveling.

The long, cold and snowy Montana winters are a blessing for they allow me to read, study and write. Over the long winter I will take two more classes at MSU, write several web pages, work inside the house and as the snow deepens, go skiing and snow shoeing.

Marble Balustrade and mountains
Fresh snow covers the marble balustrades
Venus Statue in Montana
Venus shivers in the cold Montana winter

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